THE GIFT – DECEMBER 2020
Gift – noun – something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.
Lately, I’ve been reading a fascinating book, “The Lonely Man of Faith,” by the eminent Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. In reflecting on the two accounts of the creation of man in the book of Genesis, the rabbi has given me a great gift: he has caused me to think. Why would God feel it necessary to recount the story of Adam and Eve twice? If we accept the axiom that all scripture is inerrant, then there must be a reason for the two accounts.
Rabbi Soloveitchik refers to the first creation as “Adam the first” and the second as “Adam the second.” I will call them “Adam One” and “Adam Two” simply because it’s easy to read. Please understand I’m not concerned only with the human male. In my opinion, the attributes of creation belong to both men and women.
In Genesis chapter one, we are told that God created man and woman in His image, and He commands them to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing. Being made in the image of God, Adam One expresses himself through his creativity. Throughout history, he has obeyed God’s command to subdue the earth. He invents the wheel to conquer distance, the printing press to overcome illiteracy, medical advances to eradicate disease, and machines to provide convenience, power, and even light. Adam One is majestic in his influence over nature.
But then there’s the second account of creation in Genesis chapter two. In this story, man is created from the dust of the ground. He does not become a living creature until God breathes the breath of life into him. God places Adam Two in the Garden of Eden and orders him not to conquer it, but to keep it. Then God establishes the first human relationship when Eve is created from Adam.
Where Adam One is dominant and triumphant, Adam Two is more introspective and concerned with his relationship with his wife and his relationship with God. He longs to understand his place in the universe while Adam One wants to control it. If Adam One is a creator, Adam Two knows himself to be the created. Adam One is defined by power. Adam Two is defined by humility and awe.
In our culture, we applaud the accomplished, successful Adam One, a scientifically-minded individual who looks at the world as a set of practical problems to solve and realities to conquer. However, Adam Two may offer the world something equally as important, but more subtle. Adam Two knows that we are not in total control of our own destiny. Perhaps we can dominate for a period of time, but in the end, each of us will return to dust. Adam Two seeks to understand the meaning of it all, and he senses the need for redemption.
Perhaps the two accounts in Genesis are the essence of one of God’s gifts to us. It’s easy to see that each of us has the nature and conflict of both Adam One and Adam Two within us. While we have an instinctive need to create, we know that we are the creation. While we have a notion to control, we long for understanding. Perhaps God intended us to wrestle with this dichotomy and establish a harmony between our two natures.
Using this knowledge, the writer can fashion his or her own gift to the world. The ability to hone our craft in order to capture the heart and mind of the reader is our Adam One. But we have the further responsibility to provide substance with our entertainment. Our Adam Two wants the reader to think while enjoying a well-crafted story. If we can blend these two parts of our nature and our writing into one, we will have taken our gift and multiplied it to a needy world.
How will you use your gifts in 2021?